Re: 'default' aorist

From: Philip L. Graber (
Date: Tue Oct 29 1996 - 13:57:42 EST

On Tue, 29 Oct 1996, KEN LITWAK wrote:

> Let me ask a hypothetical question about the default aorist then.
> If a NT writer wanted to say that someting happened in the past, and it
> was important that it happened once in the past, what would one expect?
> A Perfect? If NT authors use an aorist, does that mean we cannot say
> that they "intend" (yes, I know all the problems about intention) to say
> that the event took place completely in the past?

I will add to what Mari wrote that "default" should probably be tied to a
specific genre (e.g., aorist indicative may be the default for narrative,
but probably not for hortatory or procedural discourse). (I would think
one could at least in part explain this in terms of Mari's understanding
of aspect.) It might seem that aorist [indicative] "means" "once in the
past" because it *is* the narrative default, and narrative mostly talks
about events that happened once in the past. I agree completely with Mari
that if it is really important for someone to make the point that
something happened "once in the past", there are ways to do that, e.g.,
use of adverbials. An obvious example might be TOUTO EPOIHSEN EFAPAX
(Hebrews 8:6).

Philip Graber Graduate Division of Religion
Graduate Student in New Testament 214 Callaway Center
                                        Emory University Atlanta, GA 30322 USA

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